Suzanne: Have you ever looked at your job description six months into a new job and chuckled to yourself? Rarely do expectations and generally-worded guidelines from corporate align themselves with real-life experiences. How about that summer internship when you felt more like a barista than a business student? Natasha Romanova feels your pain in Black Widow 12, as jobs constantly pull her away from her preferred role as a spy. Continue reading
You can’t tell the players without a program!
Spencer: I actually bought a program at a ballgame once, and while it made a nice souvenir, I can’t say it helped me follow the game any better — if anything, it was a bit of a distraction. I didn’t need to be able to tell the players to follow the action on the field, but the same isn’t true for Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers epic; thankfully, Avengers 38 provides us with a pretty snazzy program of its own, free of charge!
While only the characters in color actually appear in this issue, almost all of them play some sort of role in its story, making me increasingly grateful for this handy run-down. Actually, in its own way all of Avengers 38 is a program; the issue sets up the players in the upcoming conflict between the various Avengers teams as well as their motivations, allegiances, and weapons, and I have a feeling we’re going to be referencing this issue for quite a while to come. It’s place-setting, but place-setting is rarely this entertaining. Continue reading
Drew: Of all the ways a writer can use to emphasize their storytelling beats, shuffling the chronology of the events always demands my attention. I almost called it “distracting” but I think I mean “demands my attention” — I absolutely appreciate that it’s a handy tool in the savvy writer’s toolkit, but we’re so used to perceiving events one after the other that flipping them around feels noticeably alien. Again, I don’t want to imply that it’s inherently bad — there are lots of compelling reasons to tell a story out-of-order — but that it draws attention to itself in ways that aren’t always accounted for. Fortunately, Matt Fraction has routinely proven himself capable of handling (and justifying) these types of stories, making Hawkeye 20 an excellent example of nonlinear narrative done right. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 19, originally released July 30th, 2014.
Spencer: My best friend is an artist, and he constantly complains that I read my comics too fast, that I don’t pay enough attention to the art. I’ll admit it, he has a point; I’m so eager to read the story that I often devour my comics, and miss things in the art I don’t catch until my second or third time through a book. There was no way I could do that with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye 19, though. This issue demands that you slow down and pay attention to every detail. It’s a challenging read in many ways, but it’s a challenge that’s absolutely worth attempting. Continue reading
Spencer: This new volume of Daredevil has largely revolved around Matt Murdock’s move to San Francisco and how his unfamiliarity with that city has affected his skills as a crime fighter. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez’s Daredevil 6 finds Matt returning to New York City (seemingly only so he can get mixed-up with Original Sin), but despite being back in his old stomping grounds, things don’t get any easier for Matt. Waid spends this entire issue showing us just how unprepared Matt is now that all his secrets are out in the open; the way Waid piles tragedy atop tragedy atop tragedy is horrifically beautiful. Continue reading
Spencer: I’m a big proponent of comics being goofy, and due to my embracing the sillier aspects of comic books, I’ve been a big fan of Secret Avengers thus far. Still, it’s way too easy for “silly” to cross some sort of line, becoming corny or cringe-worthy or sometimes just tonally jarring. I liked last month’s issue a lot more than Drew and Shelby did, but I still have to agree with them that some of the issue’s more bizarre jokes felt out of place amongst the drama of the story itself. That’s not a problem in issue four, though. Gone are the random (if funny) throwaway gags; instead, Ales Kot and Michael Walsh embrace the inherent ridiculousness of their cast and the world they live in without ever betraying the high stakes of the mission itself. Continue reading
Drew: There was a point in my life, from my late teens through my early twenties, where I firmly ascribed to the notion that making an impression, good or bad, was better than going unnoticed. It made me a very outgoing person, but it also made me pretty obnoxious. I may have gotten a bit more cynical over the years (I’ve definitely gotten quieter), but I’m now fairly certain that outgoing and obnoxiousness may be more than just directly correlated; frankly, I think they’re the same trait. “Outgoing” is the term we use when we find that kind of extroverted behavior charming, but it doesn’t take much to see those same behaviors as utterly grating. It forces us to walk a tricky line — we don’t want to be faceless cookie-cutter bores, but we also don’t want to be so fixated on the beat of our own drums that we turn people off (at least, not everyone).
Art walks a similar line, struggling to distinguish itself from the pack without alienating its audience. All art exists on a continuum of underdone to overdone but the vanguard has always been on that overdone edge, as artists push the envelope of taste ever further from the known. I don’t want to suggest that Secret Avengers 3 is quite on the bleeding edge of comic book trends, but it certainly toes the line of obnoxiousness. I know that sounds like a harsh criticism, but I really don’t mean that in a bad way. I may not mean it in a good way, either, but it’s certainly not all bad.
-S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill
Patrick: For all the crap people give the superhero genre for being “formulaic” or “predictable,” the medium of comics is anything but. I really liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and that flick does take a lot of big crazy chances — but one of the moments I was disappointed by was the split second we thought we were going to see Nick Fury’s car fly through the streets of D.C. Hot damn, I wanted to see that car fly. “Flying car” is one of those things you sorta just have to shrug at and say “comics are weird, man.” Or, more precisely, “there are no rules.” Ales Kot’s Secret Avengers embraces this philosophy, combining a cast of button-down Special Agents with a band of superhero (…and supervillain) misfits into one cacophonous volume. It’s a buffet of surprises, each one gleefully undermining all the others. Continue reading
Spencer: Hawkeye is consistently one of the most daring comic books on the shelf. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always making the biggest, most shocking moves, but it does mean that anything’s fair game when it comes to this book. An issue told from the point of view of the dog? Sure! Killing off a beloved supporting character then spending months and months revisiting the event from every conceivable angle? Why not?! Separating the main characters then dividing up the narrative between them? Seems do-able! Matt Fraction doesn’t shy away from taking risks with Hawkeye, no matter how strange or mundane, and Hawkeye 17 is one of the strangest of all. Fortunately, it’s charming as all get out. Maybe that’s the true legacy of Hawkeye: the risks always pay off. Continue reading
Spencer: Why do we love Clint Barton so much? I could probably devote my entire word count to the reasons, but the one that sticks in my head is that he’s heroic, but still endearingly flawed. Clint screws up a lot, but he’s always trying to do the right thing, no matter how badly he goes about it. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye 15 reveals that Clint’s attempts to save his building are less than legal and have only pushed the Tracksuits to more desperate measures. But despite it all, I can’t help but like the guy even more; his heart’s in the right place. Continue reading